Rick Astley's iconic 1987 hit "Never Gonna Give You Up" has just rickrolled its way to a stunning achievement. The music video reached 1 billion lifetime views on YouTube, almost 12 years after the video was posted on the Google-owned video site. The video's success can be attributed to the "Rickrolling" meme, where social media users promise one thing, but link to Astley's song.
"Never Gonna Give You Up" is just the fourth music video from the 1980s to join the 1 billion YouTube views club, behind Guns N' Roses' "Sweet Child o' Mine," A-ha's "Take On Me," and Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean," notes Variety. The most-watched music video in YouTube's history is the "Baby Shark Dance" by Pinkfong Kids' Songs & Stories, which has over 9 billion views since it was uploaded in June 2016. Luis Fonsi's "Despacito" video is number two overall with 7.46 billion views.
Astley, 55, celebrated the milestone on Twitter Wednesday, thanking fans for their support. "So I've just been told 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been streamed 1 billion times on YouTube. That is mind-blowing," Astley said. "The world is a wonderful and beautiful place and I am very lucky." Astley also signed 2,500 copies of a limited edition 7" single of "Never Gonna Give You Up" for his website to celebrate the milestone. However, the record has already sold out.
"Never Gonna Give You Up" was written by Mike Stock, Matt Aiken, and Pete Waterman, and featured on Astley's first album, Whenever You Need Somebody. The song topped the charts in 25 countries when it was first released, so it was a huge hit before YouTube even existed. The "Rickrolling" meme was born about 20 years after the song was released, with Astley even winning the 2008 MTV Europe Music Award for Best Act Ever with the song, since the award was chosen by fans online. Astley was initially hesitant to use the meme to revitalize his career, but he soon embraced it. During the 2008 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, he even performed it during a surprise appearance.
In a 2016 interview with Rolling Stone, around the time he released his album 50, Astley said he had no problem with the "Rickrolling" meme. "It's done me a lot of good, probably. The thing is it's not personal to me, even though I know it is me and it's my name in the title of Rickrolling," Astley said. "It's that video that I'm in, it's that song that's mine, but it could have been anybody."
Astley acknowledged the meme's role in welcoming his music to a new generation. "If someone had messed around with it and cut it all up and made me look stupid – I mean I look pretty stupid anyway in that video – if it was nasty, then I'd be probably a bit pissed off, but it's not," he told Rolling Stone. "It's like, 'We're choosing that video because it's a full-on Eighties, cheesy video.' There's no getting away from it now and I've got to own it because if I don't, it's like being petty."